Accessibility for Web Writers

For a number of years now, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) have been seen by many as the international gold standard for making online resources as accessible as possible. Published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), these standards are likely to continue evolving as the technologies we use also continue evolving; the current version of the WCAG is 2.0.

In the United States, the federal government requirements for accessibility are referred to as “Section 508” because that’s the name of the digital-oriented 1998 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which “requires access to programs and activities that are funded by Federal agencies and to Federal employment.” The WCAG guidelines are more recent and more detailed, but if you’re in the U.S. and aiming for the less-detailed goal of “508 compliance,” then the section 508 guidelines are the ones you’ll want to learn.

These kinds of relatively technical guidelines can feel like an awful lot of information to take in at once if you’re coming to them for the first time, and in my post on “How to Evaluate Your Web Pages for Accessibility” I shared a few links to beginner-friendly introductions. If you’re ready for more in-depth knowledge, however, there are some useful online tutorials that can walk you through the different issues. To keep things simple, I’ll recommend just 2 choices.

For learning about Section 508 standards, check out Jim Thatcher’s “Web Accessibility for Section 508.” If instead you’re interested in WCAG 2.0, then you’ll want to read Dey Alexander’s “Accessibility for Web Writers.” Both of these tutorials are detailed, multi-part explanations of accessibility requirements, and both are aimed at a reader who already has a basic understanding of how to create web pages.

Do you have recommendations for tutorials or explanations of achieving accessibility in web writing? Please share in the comments.

[Image: Start Starting Line Americorps Cinema Service Night Wilcox Park May 20, 20118, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from stevendepolo]

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